South Africa’s KRUGER PARK and BIG CAT RESERVE photo safari - August 2014
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 20th Aug 2014
We visited the Big Cat Reserve for 3 nights followed by 8 nights inside the Kruger National Park at Lower Sabie and Satara Camps.
This time of year in Southern Africa is a good time for game viewing as the animals are drawn more and more to the last water sources. From this point on it will get progressively more difficult for the herbivores and easier for the carnivores as the weak, old and young animals begin to feel the pressure due to less good grazing and less water.
First up, the big Cat reserve provided some great opportunities with the two young female leopards, in their camp close to the lodge. Ntombi the Cheetah graced us with her presence on the plains near Bush Camp and the Cheetah Boys, Floppy and Hunters made two kills during our stay. Being able to get so close to these adult male Cheetahs is still one of the highlights of the trip. Hippo, porcupine and a Bushbaby called “peanut” were some more highlights.
We then entered into the Kruger National park via Orpen Gate (Vehicle 1) and via Phabeni gate (Vehicle 2) On route to our first camp we came across the Nwaswitsontso Lion pride just north of Tshokwane. They had just finished a Zebra kill and were relaxing on the banks of the river.
Lower Sabie is famous for the great photo opportunities at Sunset Dam, a mere 200m from the camp gate. We spent a whole morning at the dam photographing the residents as well as two male Lions that came to drink on the far side of the dam. Fish Eagles, Giant Kingfishers, Egyptian Geese, Yellow Billed Storks, Hippos and Crocodiles kept our trigger fingers happy.
The afternoon drive took us out to the Mlondozi picnic site area where we stayed with two male Cheetahs who were resting up for the day. It was a lucky day for us and the cheetah but unlucky for a young zebra foal who stumbled right into the resting Cheetah who gave chase. Sadly the Zebra foal was knocked down by a few of the fleeing adults and the Cheetahs grabbed it right in front of us.
We spent a good deal of time at some waterholes in the Kruger which proved to be very successful, Rhino, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Warthog, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Zebra and a beautiful male Leopard were photographed.
Apart from the Cheetah and Zebra incident, we were very lucky to see three more chases which ended up in the prey getting away, and perhaps the best chase and catch sequence I have seen and photographed yet in the Kruger. On this occasion a Lioness waited in ambush on the bank of the Sweni River, just south of Satara Camp. A small herd of Zebra came in to drink and the result was an amazing chase through the river where the Lioness managed to catch a young Zebra foal. Such a sighting is really quite rare to see and we were really very lucky and fortunate to have been able to witness, and photograph it.
A few other highlights were a number of small Spotted Hyaena cubs who emerged from their roadside den, approx 700 Buffalo drinking from Girivana waterhole, the two leopard cubs and their mother in the Nwatimhiri River north of Lower Sabie and the 4 young male Lions we met on the road towards Crocodile Bridge.
The randomness and surprise factor in the Kruger is second to none and when the conditions are right it is a really amazing place to spend time in.
Many thanks to our two amazing rangers at the Big Cat Reserve, Deon and Matt, thanks so much for all your hard work getting us the great shots that we did. Thanks also to all the staff at Tshukudu for looking after us so well.
Thanks also to the amazing WILD4 backup team, mum and dad - thanks for all your help, the amazing meals and endless energy you have which make this trip such a great success.
Finally I want to thank Mike Lentz for guiding the second vehicle in Kruger, it was a privilege to have had Mike on the trip with his amazing knowledge gained during more than 10 years in the bush, Mike I hope we get to have you again on more WILD4 photo safaris.
Here are some photos from the trip - enjoy
Kind regards from the WILD4 team.
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Our 14 days with Wild4 Safaris will always be remembered as the best learning experience we have ever embarked on. Not only for the improvement in photographic skills and knowledge, but also the animal behavioural knowledge that we gained. We were totally immersed in the world of wildlife photography in the best place in the world with one of the best pro photographers around. Stu genuinely enjoys sharing his knowledge and passion for wildlife and photography. More than a holiday, it was an unbelievably rewarding learning experience and has taken our skill level up significantly. Stu and his team were able to help us learn about our equipment and coach us to apply these new skills quickly. Their sharing of knowledge, expertise in photography, and being able to read wildlife behaviour along with the excellent booklet (which became Marie's bible) are world class. This ensured we got to places that others didn't and that we were always in the best position to shoot. We also booked the extension and were most impressed with the “behind the scenes” access we gained at each Reserve. Stu didn't disappoint and was able to put together some memorable opportunities for us to get many excellent shots. The whole package was first class, from the pick up at Nelspruit, accommodation, food and day trips, to the people (now friends) who we met on the trip. This is one of those bucket list adventures that we will be doing again with WILD4.
John and Marie, AUSTRALIA
I am a Molecular Biologist by profession and a serious amateur nature photographer and have been on a number of organized trips over the last 10 years with the dual aims of enjoying nature and getting the best images possible. The organization of a two week trip with Wild 4 Photographic Safaris through Kruger National Park I shared with two other photographers and it was as good as I have ever experienced. The Porter family was friendly, knowledgeable and intuitively supportive. Stu really knows his subjects and spared no effort in getting the photographers into the best situation. He has a very pleasant, calm personality and is an accomplished nature photographer and naturalist which means he knows where the light or action is best and often what is about to happen. His vehicle is also well set-up for discriminating photographers. Justyna was just brilliant in getting things organized in the background. Having our own scout vehicle to report activity in the area while we pursued other subjects, worked well, and on a number of occasions provided photo opportunities we would have missed otherwise. In summary; rating out of 10…….no doubt a 10.
Graeme Guy, NEW ZEALAND